Thursday, September 3, 2015

A $25 Eyeshadow Single? Review and swatches of Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadow in Delicate Hummingbird

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
You may be thinking, "Wait a goddamned minute. Why are you reviewing a $25 eyeshadow on a blog with 'cheap' in the title?" Why indeed. That's a fair question. After all, I recently debated whether or not $8 was too much for a single eyeshadow. Well, let me tell you a story. I ordered this eyeshadow from BeautyKind late last week when they had a fantastic promotion with no apparent expiration date posted. I used someone's referral link and got a $25 credit to use, no minimum purchase required. So I just had to pay $6 shipping for the $25 eyeshadow. Score! It arrived Monday evening, so my plan was to test it for two days, and then blog about it, to share the amazing deal. So I tested it for two days . . . and then when I woke up this morning, BeautyKind had changed their rules. Now the deal is a $25 credit to be used on a minimum purchase of $50 when you sign up through a referral link (here's mine). That's way less exciting than a free $25, but I guess 50% off (if you spend exactly $50) is still something.

BeautyKind has a bunch of brands that aren't super-obscure but aren't available everywhere, including Juara, Laura Geller, Butter London, Lipstick Queen, and, of course, Rouge Bunny Rouge. They also donate a 5% of your purchase to a charity, and you have a choice of a few options that change periodically. I chose the American Cancer Society. Of course, if you really want to be charitable, you should just donate your money directly to a cause, rather than treating yourself and then feeling smug and self righteous for doing a good thing. But if you were going to buy the makeup anyway, it doesn't hurt that a couple of bucks are going to charity. BeautyKind also sent me three samples in foil packets, which was a nice bonus, even if one of them was this fat girl bullshit that I posted on Instagram and then threw away without using.

So that's the story. I'm sorry that I don't have a more spectacular deal to share with you, but I thought it would be a little tacky to post a referral link when I hadn't even properly tested the product. Now it's too late. I already took photos of this eyeshadow, however, so I'll go ahead and review it anyway. It makes a good pendant to my recent expensive lipstick review.

Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Shimmer Shadow in Delicate Hummingbird
Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Shimmer Shadow in Delicate Hummingbird
Rouge Bunny Rouge has a reputation for beautifully pigmented and creamy powder eyeshadows, so I was interested in how they compare to the many other, definitely cheaper, shadows I already own. The texture is certainly nice. It's pigmented enough that you don't need to spend a lot of time building it up, but not messy, and it's easy to blend. I think it's closely comparable to the shimmer shades in the classic Wet N Wild Color Icon trios, which is high praise. The wear time is also good. I tested it without primer, and it actually lasted a few hours before creasing and didn't fade dramatically. Everything creases on my oily eyelids eventually, so I wouldn't actually wear it without primer, normally.

I chose the shade Delicate Hummingbird, which is described as "cool, dusky, sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer," because it sounded like I wouldn't have a dupe for it in my hoard. Most of my makeup was still in disarray from moving, however, so I didn't actually search through it to make sure before placing the order. (Or was I just too lazy?) The description is basically right, though I think the purple itself is a little warm - and almost brownish ("dusky" I guess) - and a good deal of the metallic shimmer is silvery rather than pink. It's also pretty shifty, depending on the light. A lot of the photos I've seen almost make it look like it has some gold shimmer in it, but it doesn't.

I was successful in not duping anything I already had, so that's good. Here's a comparison with Urban Decay Gravity, which is more pigmented (to the point of being annoying), definitely purple (not plum), and has more silver glitter in it; the purple shade from the Pixi Eye Glo Cube palette, which is lighter and cooler and much less pigmented; and the discontinued Maybelline Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk, which is much warmer and redder (next to the others here it looks brown here, but it's really not). I looked at a few other purplish eyeshadows in my hoard, and nothing else looked comparable either.

Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Shimmer Shadow in Delicate Hummingbird
Swatches of Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicate Hummingbird, Urban Decay Gravity, purple from Pixi Eye Glo Cube, and Maybelline Pomegranate Punk
I find purplish eyeshadows in general tricky, because if they lean at all toward the red side, they make me look ill. Pomegranate Punk, for example, is one of those reddish plums that I simply cannot wear (I pulled it out of my reject pile to swatch). Delicate Hummingbird is right on the line. It's almost the exact color of the dark circles under my eyes (+ shimmer,) so concealer is definitely required. With sufficient care, it's pretty, but not spectacular on me (though if you want to see a really lovely eye look using this shadow, check out this post from Rocaille Writes).

Now the real question: is it worth $25? Um . . . no. Maybe if I had picked a more flattering color, I would have been more blown away, but I'm not convinced. It's a quality eyeshadow, thats for sure, and the packaging is sturdy. If you like to travel with eyeshadow singles, I guess it would be useful to have one with a mirror, and I think the container is refillable. But I also think you can get just as good eyeshadows at a fraction of this price - based on comparison with just this one shade, admittedly, which seems to be among the most popular Rouge Bunny Rouge sells. I'm not immune to expensive beauty product related FOMO from time to time, but it's unfounded. My position is consistently reinforced that there is very little correlation between quality and price when it comes to makeup. True, you might get more attractive and sturdier packaging at a higher price, so if that's important to you, it's worth considering. But as for the products themselves, there is a similar range from terrible to excellent at all price points. There's absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself to something pretty or luxurious, but don't delude yourself that just because you're spending a lot of money, you're automatically getting something better than the poor schlubs at the drugstore.

If you're interested in Rouge Bunny Rouge, then the $25 off $50+ (plus shipping) from BeautyKind may be the way to go. The shipping was very fast, just a few days. If you do use my referral link, you should know that I also get a $25 off $50+ credit and some points. Their point system confuses me, but you can read about it here and try to figure it out yourself, if you want.

I'm also curious if anyone else has already shopped at BeautyKind, and what your experience has been like, since the site is new to me.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The last word on minimalism and decluttering

Maybe you're one of the seemingly countless people who are really into minimalism these days. Or maybe you're like me and have been wishing you were into minimalism, because you just had to move all of your fucking property twice within a two week period and now you live surrounded by overflowing boxes and bags in a chaotic hell of your own making. That's when living the monastic lifestyle looks most appealing, I think. Either way, read this and then do everything it tells you to do, because otherwise you will never be happy.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do you like skincare in your makeup? Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation in Porcelain: Review and Swatches

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
I really didn't have high hopes for a random new drugstore foundation sent to me for free from Influenster. I'm at somewhere around a 10% success rate for foundation even when I pick it out myself after doing research. Plus I have that apparently elusive neutral and very pale skin tone that means most "Porcelain" or "Ivory" shades are too cool or too warm. Shockingly, I ended up really liking the Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation that showed up on my doorstep recently - in Porcelain, of course, which seems to be the lightest option.

(Note: Anyone can sign up for Influenster and get free stuff to test. It's not a blogger thing, though I think the more followers you have on social media, the better. I usually get one or two things from them a year.)

This foundation's schtick is that it contains vitamin C, so it's supposed improve your skin over time. It claims to "reduce the appearance of spots, dullness, and unevenness." Yes, any foundation should do that. That's the point. Note that they don't say it will make your skin look that way without the makeup on top of it. Oh, the joys of marketing copy. So tricky.

There are different forms of Vitamin C used in skincare, which have different properties, and some are more effective than others. The Better Skin foundation contains Actyl-C, which is a type of vitamin C patented by L'Oreal. It's 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, if that means anything to you. According to The Beauty Brains, not much has been published on it, but it can lighten dark spots.

Maybelline challenged people to use this for 3 weeks and report back. I used it for 3 weeks at the frequency that I normally wear foundation, i.e. once or twice a week. I didn't notice any improvement in my skin during that time. Would I have noticed results if I had worn it more often? That seems unlikely, since, as Beautypedia points out in their review, vitamin C has to be kept away from light to remain stable, and this is packaged in a clear bottle. It does contain SPF 15 in the form of titanium dioxide, so if you normally don't wear sunscreen at all (the horror!), then you might notice some "brightening" after using this foundation regularly as it protects your skin from tanning. I always use a separate sunscreen, so SPF in my foundation is just whatever. It can't hurt to have skincare ingredients in makeup, for the most part, but if you really want to treat issues you're having, you're better off using dedicated skincare products to do it, rather than expecting miracles from your makeup.

I don't really buy foundation hoping that it magically transforms my skin over time. I just want it to do its job. And this foundation does its job.

Porcelain is a pretty good match for me. It is just on the cool side of neutral, but close enough that when I blend it out, it looks right on me. It's very pale, and so it will probably suit me better in the winter. Despite my best efforts to wear sunscreen constantly, my face does darken slightly in the summer. You can see Better Skin compared to Maybelline Fit Me foundation stick, also in Porcelain, in the swatches below. The paleness of the two is comparable, but next to the Fit Me stick, the Better Skin foundation looks positively yellow. If I had a warmer foundation to swatch next to it, like Tarte Amazonian Clay in Fair Sand, I bet it would look relatively pink. Just guessing. You can compare the Fit Me stick to some other foundation in this previous post of mine, and maybe get a sense of how this one relates that way. As I've said before, the Fit Me stick looks almost perfect on the inside of my arm, but compared to my face and neck, it's way too cool. Swatching foundation on my arms is clearly not the best way to find my match.

Swatches of Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation in Porcelain and Maybelline Superstay Better Skin foundation in Porcelain
Swatches of Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation in Porcelain and Maybelline Superstay Better Skin foundation in Porcelain
The first time I tested this foundation, I applied it with my fingers. I didn't like the results much at all. It looked too heavy and mask-like, not like natural skin. It has a matte finish that looks velvety when applied in a substantial layer. If full-coverage, matte foundation, you can certainly get those results easily with this Better Skin stuff by applying it with your fingers or a brush. You probably won't need to add concealer. It does feel a bit heavy on your skin this way, I found. I was paranoid that it would smear or transfer - I could just always feel it. But even applied at full strength, it doesn't settle into pores or emphasize lines, which is important to me.

I really prefer medium coverage and a more satin finish. In the past, I've tried using a damp Beauty Blender to sheer out full coverage foundations, like Revlon Colorstay, without much luck. A damp sponge works impressively well with Better Skin, though. I ended up with a medium coverage, semi-matte effect, which is just what I wanted. It does require some concealer in places, or you can build up layers where you need extra coverage. But it doesn't hide my freckles, for example, which I think makes it look much more natural. Sheered out, the foundation felt comfortable and light, and, again, didn't emphasize pores or lines. It can highlight flakiness a bit, so it's a good idea to moisturize well before using it. It worked well with or without primer. I posted a photo of my face with this foundation on it on Instagram, but it's not great quality, so I won't reproduce it here. But it's there for you if you want it.

Applied with my Beauty Blender, the Better Skin foundation set well and didn't necessarily require powder, though I prefer to add some finishing powder. As for the "SuperStay" part of the name: I wouldn't classify this as a long-wearing foundation. It's average. Personally, I'm okay with that, because I would much rather have something that begins to fade after 5-6 hours, but also doesn't turn into a mess when it wears off, than something that lasts 8 hours and looks like shit by the end. This foundation just sort of disappears slowly and evenly. It doesn't get all crusty or goopy or blotchy like a lot of others I've used. Obviously you can extend the wear with the usual tricks, like primer and setting with powder, etc., if that's your style.

I think this would be best for normal to oily skin, since it is very matte and feels a little drying during the first hour or so after applying it (another good reason to moisturize beforehand). If you have dry skin, it might be uncomfortable, and as I said, it may highlight flakiness (though I have used foundations that were much, much worse in that respect; it's not a serious issue here).

Overall, this is a pretty impressive foundation. I am picky, and I've been trying to find a decent foundation for a while now. I feel satisfied with this stuff that I didn't even pick out myself. That's kind of amazing. So even though it actually doesn't really succeed in the two things you would expect from its name (long-wearing and skincare), I'd actually recommend SuperStay Better Skin foundation, anyway, if you're looking for the same things in a foundation that I am.

Have you discovered any decent foundations lately?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Downside of Indies: Mentality Polish and "Sensitivity"

Buying from indie cosmetics companies can feel really noble and gratifying. I think supporting small, independent businesses rather than massive corporations is a good thing. Also, indie companies tend to put out some more interesting products than mainstream companies, since they are only making small batches and don't have to try to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

The downside is that, when something goes wrong, a small business might not have the infrastructure or resources to fix it. That's what seems to be happening with Mentality Polish, who sold some products this spring that caused what they call "sensitivity" for a number of their customers. People's nails have been lifting from the beds and it's all pretty gross and painful-looking. A major company would do a proper recall at this point (or would have been able to do extensive testing of their products beforehand to avoid these results in the first place). In the case of this indie nail polish company, they seem to have started out trying to replace the products of the people who got in touch with them, but ran out of money to do so and are no longer making amends (and posting on social media about "bullies" - not enough eye rolls for that). They also didn't communicate the issue to all of their customers, so there are likely people out there having bad reactions without knowing why. You can find out more about the issue and the company's response in this post from The Mercurial Magpie (warning: graphic photos of injured nails).

I'm posting this tonight in case you bought anything from Mentality during the problem window (April-June 2015; see above link for details) and also just as a word of caution about dealing with independent cosmetic manufacturers. I'm curious about people's thoughts on indie cosmetics in general. Do you think they are likely to be more or less reliable than mega-corps?

The Emperor's New Lipstick: Lipstick Queen Jean Queen Swatches, Comparison, and Review

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
Here's something that I was pretty excited to try. Since I don't typically spend $22 on a single lipstick, I used my last stash of Birchbox points to get it. I've heard all sorts of good things about the Lipstick Queen formula (moisturizing, comfortable, easy to use, etc.), and I went with Jean Queen, because I wanted something work appropriate and easy to reapply. And that it is. That it is.

The packaging is great, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm a sucker for metallic blue, personally.

Lipstick Queen Jean Queen
Lipstick Queen Jean Queen
The lipstick itself is a sort of neutral, rosy shade. Generally fits in the MLBB (My Lips But Better) category.

Lipstick Queen Jean Queen
Lipstick Queen Jean Queen
This lipstick, as the name suggests, is designed to be worn with denim. Which . . . what? I take that to mean it's casual and versatile, like jeans. It's also supposed to be a "gentle step up from nude" and "sheer and moisturizing."

So with the exception of one of those things (which I will get to), I have found it to be exactly as advertised - and yet I was disappointed, so I'm glad I didn't spend 22 real dollars on it. I suppose I should have expected the results I got, because I have naturally quite pigmented lips, and sheer products tend barely to show up on me at all. That's the case with Jean Queen. It's essentially a tinted lip balm in a lipstick tube.

Here's what my lips look like with just clear lip balm. You can see that they are rather pink, but don't have a clearly defined margin and they are pretty blotchy. Those are things that I don't think anyone would notice at a regular distance (or care about if they did), but you can see them in the closeup.

And here are my lips wearing Jean Queen:

There is a slight difference, yes, but it's minimal (and enhanced by better lighting in the second photo). Definitely "gentle" and "sheer" as advertised.

I guess I would be okay with this being a very expensive tinted lip balm, on par price-wise with the Fresh Sugar balms, if it wasn't for one major problem. It's the same problem I have with the Fresh balms: it's not moisturizing. Not for me. The one thing I read repeatedly about Lipstick Queen was how hydrating and comfortable their lipsticks are. I'm sure that's true for some people. For me, Jean Queen is actually slightly drying. Certainly not moisturizing. The Fresh balms, at least, are just not moisturizing in my experience - they don't actually make things worse.

I guess I also expect a sheer lipstick to be a step up in pigmentation from a tinted balm, and this really isn't. I put on Jean Queen the other day and asked my boyfriend if he could tell that I was wearing something on my lips. He responded proudly, "Yes! They are shiny! Sort of!" But when I asked if they were a different color than usual, he just sort of squinted at me and frowned.

Below is Jean Queen compared to a bunch of other lip products I have that belong in the same rosy-pink-MLBB category. As you can see, Jean Queen is about as sheer as Fresh Sugar in Rosé. On me, I'd classify the pigmentation of Rosé as "almost nothing" vs. Jean Queen's "maybe a little something?" You can see the texture difference in the swatch as well. The Fresh balm is more emollient.

From left to right: (1) Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Rosé, (2) Lipstick Queen Jean Queen, (3) e.l.f. Essential Lipstick in Posh (reviewed here), (4) e.l.f. Luscious Liquid Lipstick in Cherry Tart (reviewed here), (5) Essence Stay With Me Gloss in Choose Me! (reviewed here/discontinued), and (6) Revlon Balm Stain in Honey (reviewed here with indoor lighting where it looks more brownish).

Swatches of Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Rosé, Lipstick Queen Jean Queen, e.l.f. Essential Lipstick in Posh, e.l.f. Luscious Liquid Lipstick in Cherry Tart, Essence Stay With Me Gloss in Choose Me!), and Revlon Balm Stain in Honey

The color of Jean Queen and Revlon Honey are surprisingly similar, though Honey is more pigmented and not drying for me, so I much prefer it. It's a lot more reasonably priced, too, at $7-10.

In the end, I'm not going to declare that you should absolutely not buy Jean Queen, because I know there are some people who will (and do) love it. If you don't have sensitive lips that are easily dried out by lipstick, then you may find it perfectly comfortable to wear (and even moisturizing, by many accounts). Maybe you are one of those people who swears by the Fresh balms that I hate and so your lips just respond to different things than mine do (they both have a lot of castor oil in them, if that means anything). If you don't have deeply pigmented lips, then you may find the subtle tint really pretty. It is a lovely color. I just wish there was more of it. But if you have lips like mine - dry and pigmented - you might also find this a disappointing product. For $22 and all the hype, this was a miss for me. Try Revlon Honey instead.

Do you have Jean Queen? Any strong feelings either way?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lime Crime given warning by FDA for selling adulterated product (Velvetine in Red Velvet)

If you are using this product, you might want to stop (in case all of the other issues with Lime Crime haven't already deterred you). Here's the FDA warning letter. They seem to be using ingredients in the product that are not considered safe for use on the lips (ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines). Apparently the ingredients list on their website no longer includes these two substances, so the other possibility is that they were mislabeling things, which is also not great.

I'm deep in packing and moving mode this week (and I also have to fit in a quick trip across the border to Toronto for a symposium in the midst of it all), so I wasn't planning to post until I finished with all the chaos, but this seemed important enough to mention quickly.

Monday, August 3, 2015

If you want "natural" sunscreen, you might have to compromise

I don't totally understand why people want everything to be "natural," other than because it sounds vaguely better than "unnatural," if you don't think about it too much. But some people do, so fine. If that's your thing, you should still wear sunscreen - and you're in luck because zinc oxide is pretty natural (though there is nothing wrong with chemical sunscreens - here's one I like). The downside is that zinc oxide tends to be quite opaque, so it can leave a white cast on the skin. Some formulas add tints or other active sunscreen ingredients to mitigate that whiteness, but then maybe it's not so natural anymore.

Other companies, like Jessica Alba's The Honest Company apparently just decreased the amount of zinc oxide in their "ultra-pure" natural sunscreen from 20% to 9.3%, because people didn't like the texture and appearance, while keeping the SPF 30 label on the bottle. Most other zinc sunscreens contain 18-25%. Keep in mind that the FDA has rules about SPF, but it relies on companies themselves to test their own products. The Honest Company says that they added "other ingredients" - unspecified - to compensate. But those other ingredient are not sunscreens, so they're not going to maintain the SPF. That's nonsense. And judging from consumer complaints, that solution did not work, because people have been getting literally burned by this shit.

So if you want all natural zinc-based sunscreen, you're going to have to compromise: either it's going to be less esthetically pleasing or less effective. Of course there are lots of great zinc sunscreens out there that work well, but they tend to have scary added "chemicals" (OH NOES) in them.

(Note: The Honest Company's sunscreen is marked Out of Stock on their website, so hopefully that means they have pulled it from their online store to reformulate.)